St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective


St. Louis, MO

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©2020 by St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective.

What We Do

The St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective seeks to build systems of race and gender equity in St. Louis' early stage entreprenuerial ecosystem. After the 2017 Summit, this work began in earnest. 


Four Action Teams formed to focus on:

  • Data Transparency and Accountability - measuring equity and sharing data across organizations

  • Intentional Network Cultivation – building systems to intentionally diversify networks of mentorship & leadership

  • Coordinated Investment in M/WBE Skill Development and Capacity - aligning entrepreneur development activities across the region

  • Unbiased Concentration & Distribution of Resources – studying and building equity in systems that determine how time, talent and treasure (investment) is distributed

​These Action Teams then identified eight priority areas around which to organize the Collective's efforts. 

Read more below about the Eight Pilot Solutions Collective members and partners are currently working on. 

Eight Pilot Solutions

What we're working on now. To get involved, contact us.

1. Training

From the outset, a critically important part of the Collective's work and of creating a community of practice that enables our region to develop a more equitable ecosystem for women and entrepreneurs of color, has been sourcing gender and racial equity training for individuals and organizations that have opted into this vision and process. Created by NCCJ St. Louis and AWIS (the Association for Women in Science), this training is unique nationally in its focus on the intersections of race, gender/sex, equity and entrepreneurship.


From June to August 2018, 8 Racial and Gender Equity Training sessions were held and attended by 42 people.

3. Toolkits

The Intentional Network Cultivation Action Team and the other Teams all expressed the need to provide members of the Collective with a "tool kit" - best and promising practices to help individuals and organization be more intentional in sourcing more diverse speakers, panelists, venues, subject matter experts, employees, entrepreneurs, ventures, mentors, judges, funders, etc. in order to improve the representation and inclusion of women and entrepreneurs of color in formal and informal networks, programs, deal flow, competitions, etc.


Volunteers are currently working on 1) Researching national best/promising practices for promoting more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplaces, programs, boards of directors, program participants, conferences and other ecosystem organizations and programs and 2) Working with local organizations to collect feedback on their challenges, opportunities and the tools they are using to cultivate equity. The goal is to aggregate best practices in a living document that can support the efforts of organizations to think and behavior more equitably by default - to help them change the status quo internally and externally. Please contact us to volunteer your time and expertise to co-creating this important resource.

5. Capital

The Unbiased Concentration and Distribution of Resources Action Team is interested in researching what other practitioners and ecosystems are doing to close the funding gaps and/or create alternative funding mechanisms that support women and entrepreneurs of color. This may include but not be limited to investing apprenticeships, "confidence" capital or MVP funds, women and minority accelerators, fellowships, community benefit agreements, etc. 


While work on this solution has not yet started, we are seeking volunteers to help us 1) Research national best practices  2) Research funding mechanisms (such as community benefit agreements and mission related investments) and evaluate their applicability as ways to create new capital for entrepreneurs and 3) Reach out to local Chambers and Entrepreneur Support Organizations to understand where the most pressing gaps in capital exist and/or to document the solutions they are piloting to address the need. Please contact us to volunteer to help us activate this work. 

7. Culture of Practice

The Collective has engaged NCCJ and AWIS (Association for Women in Science) to develop racial and gender equity training opportunities for members of the Collective. The trainings give us the opportunity to develop a shared context and language for understanding systemic disparities and ways we can start to change the status quo. Mastery of new skills requires practice. As such, we need to find ways to support each other as individuals and organizations through continuous dialogue. We are seeking volunteers to help us plan and host on-going meet-ups, discussion groups, pot-lucks and other activities as part of a sustainable community of practice. Please contact us to volunteer.

2. Data sharing

Measuring equity and sharing data is the principal focus of the Data Transparency & Accountability Action Team. Led by ITEN, the St. Louis Data Collective is working with SourceLink to create a regional baseline of DEI data to help the St. Louis  entrepreneurship ecosystem better understand its current state; learn what is and is not working; and track its progress over time.   

As of June 2018, 

  • 8 organizations are participating and have signed the data sharing agreement 

  • 6 have completed their data submission

  • 2 companies are in the process of submitting data

Next steps include:​

  1. June:  Gather, standardize & augment data

  2. July: Clean & enhance, draft findings & develop communications plan

  3. August: Deliver final analysis with charts & provide augmented data back to participants

  4. August/September: Planning session with Collective & SourceLink to discuss and define the future process

4. Wayfinding

The Coordinated Investment in Entrepreneur Skill Development Action Team identified the need for the Collective to do research and make recommendations regarding better ways to aggregate, maintain and disseminate information on entrepreneur support organizations and resources. This will include but is not limited to recommendations regarding the technical and design requirements of a database/website, where to house and how to fund this resource, and what on-going programming and technical assistance services are needed to ensure widespread access to and use of this information.


Volunteers are currently 1) Researching national best practices and 2) Collecting quantitative and qualitative data from local entrepreneurs and support organizations to inform the recommendation process. Please contact us to volunteer to help us develop, review and present these important recommendations.

6. Investors

Investors play an incredibly important role in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Accelerators, angel investors and VC firms understand the business case for diversity and inclusion. Supporting them in promoting race and gender equity in their deal sourcing, investment strategies, partner selection, staffing choices and investment selections requires a peer-led approach in which senior leaders can heir model commitment to the work and match the energy and passion of junior staff who are most often working to advance equity in their firms.  

Plans are underway for a fall convening of investors to support their capacity to create more equitable approaches to investing. The desired future state is one in which women and people of color are regularly represented in investment portfolios and among the investors themselves. 

8. Facilities

The Intentional Network Cultivation Action Team is focused on diversifying the region’s networks of mentorship and leadership. While this group shares many areas of overlap with the Unbiased Concentration and Distribution of Resources Team and the Coordinated Investment in Entrepreneur Skill Development Action Team, one area of distinction is the opportunity to focus on physical pathways for increased connectedness and support. 

Please contact us to volunteer to help us activate the work of ensuring that we create equitable workspaces that are not only accessible to women and people of color but are also located in the communities they call home and designed to help them connect with critical resources and networks.


Regional engagement by the numbers 

150 people

150 people gathered at the region's first-ever summit focused on the disparities in entrepreneurial opportunities & outcomes

8 Pilot Solutions

42 people worked in 4 action teams to identify 8 pilot solutions to make the entrepreneurship ecosystem more equitable

13 volunteers

13 volunteers are co-creating Organizational Toolkits & streamlining regional entrepreneurship wayfinding tools

2 national RFPs

21 people sorted through 8 responses to 2 national RFP processes to increase the Collective’s capacity around training and evaluation